May 2021 Newsletter from John Howell MP for Henley

This month will bring with it a major step forward in the COVID19 recovery programme, which is welcomed. I know that many people have been enjoying the opportunity to meet up with friends again outdoors, but the weather has, quite literally, put a damper on that! The new opportunity to meet indoors and, to be able to stay overnight with people, is good news. The progress that has been made to enable this is also good news. With the virus deemed to be supressed in most of the constituency I know that many people are looking forward to a more normal way of life. The vaccination programme has, of course, played a huge part in this and my thanks to those who have come forward to take up the vaccination. However there are still many people who have yet to be offered the vaccine and so I encourage everyone, including those who have already been offered the vaccine, to remain vigilant and follow the guidance for the sake of these people.

The State opening of Parliament marks the start of a new session of Parliament and many MPs, including me, have taken this as a signal to return to the parliamentary estate rather than continue to work remotely. Restrictions do remain in place but simply being on the estate and being able to meet with colleagues informally is of great benefit.

One thing that I have very much missed during lockdown and under COVID restrictions is being able to meet people within the constituency. Prior to the pandemic, along with all other MPs, my Fridays and sometimes weekends were filled with visits to schools, businesses, charities and meetings with individuals and groups to discuss a wide range of issues and concerns. Some of this has continued through virtual meetings but I am looking forward to getting out and about more and seeing what is going on for myself. Once all restrictions are lifted, hopefully in June, I will be looking to schedule visits and meetings. Please do get in touch is there is something you would like me to come to.
One thing that I plan to continue is virtual surgeries. This has been one very positive thing that has emerged from lockdown. The constituency is geographically spread and, although I move surgeries around, people wanting to meet with me would sometimes have to travel some distance to discuss something that did not take long to talk about to enable me to take an issue up for them. With online opportunities we have been able to save people much time and at the same time reduce car journeys. Face to face meetings continue to have an important place in our communications but in future we can determine the best way to meet according to the time needed and the travel involved, which I hope will bring a benefit to many people.

With the beginning of the new parliamentary session we have some important new legislation coming forward. Much of the detail is yet to be published but as information is available I would welcome, as always, views on proposals. Although I have been going to the Westminster office at present my team continues to work remotely and email remains the quickest form of communication. If you have an issue that you would like to raise with me, if possible, please email me at john.howell.mp@parliament.uk. If you cannot email you can still write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1 0AA or PO Box 84, Watlington, OX49 5XD. Please be aware that remote working means that it is taking longer for mail to get through to me.

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